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September 23, 2008


St. Paul's Attorney

Tim J.,

"An analogy may help. When my son was a toddler, he got into a lot of things he shouldn't have and he also (like many two-years-olds) often experimented with the boundary between submission and defiance. For his own safety, and to establish certain truths more firmly in his mind, I would sometimes swat his behind or - later - thump him in the head (I found this much handier after I began to have back problems).

He is now seventeen. What kind of pathetic spactacle would it be if I still chased him around the house or down the grocery aisle swatting his behind? What would it say about me if I continued to thump him in the head?

The way I deal with him has changed a great deal over the years, not because I have changed, but because he has changed."

You are on notice that you have completely ripped off my client, Paul of Tarsus, who seeks immediate remedy to a tune of $55,607.00.

We will be awaiting your payment by the end of this month. If you cannot provide this amount, we will gladly accept your Persimmons painting in lieu of payment.



1Cor 13:11:
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.


This is a problem in a lot of people's minds, but has never been for me. I guess I don't have a problem with a God whose perfect character executes both grace and justice.

But you're right in noting the one difference, the intercessor Jesus. That's a pretty big difference, no?


Dear Tim,

Athos is the man for you, however I will insert here something using a Gil Bailie link and anthropology based on MT to, I hope, show how MT helps to illuminate how God works with his creatures continually revealing the mystery and love of himself, bringing more and more light onto your topic.

Here is the link:

"Now let us retrace our steps, this time paying special attention to the soteriological details. In place of the Old Testament concept of "scapegoat," the New Testament speaks of "the Lamb of God" a synonym for scapegoat, but one which emphasizes both the innocence of the victim and (more subtly) the sacrificial reversal that is taking place: it being humanity (not God) who demands a victim and the God of suffering love (not the sin ridden, smelly he-goat) who dies at the hands of the victimizers. Jesus is the Lamb of God, the one who will be led to the sacrificial altar. The mythic and gospel homologies are striking."

Down further in the article Gil writes...

"The crowing of the cock is the New Testament trope for the moment of their convergence. The sound that is the universal symbol for the dawning of a new day is the sound associated with Peter's awakening from his subtle complicity in the contagious consensus of the accusatory crowd surrounding Jesus. At the crowing of the cock Peter steps out of the old world of myth, whose efficacy depended precisely on keeping people from having Peter's experience.

If the grip of sin is to be broken without vitiating human freedom and the dignity implied by it, then forgiveness cannot occur without the sinner's desire for it, and for that to happen the sinner has to have become conscious of sin. He has to have heard the cock crow. Since the beginning of human culture, however, sin itself has deprived us of this consciousness by turning sin into righteousness at the expense of the victim slain or expelled. So the blood of Christ was shed "so that sins may be forgiven."


Sleeping Beastly

I think Jesus actually spoke to this a number of times. I'm thinking specifically of Mark 10:5 but I think a case could be made that other passages are applicable as well.

I'm with pNielson about God's simultaneous mercy and justice. In my own life, he has been at once painfully brutal and unbelievably gentle. When I think about it, his wrath and his mercy are both pretty astounding, and I think both show up in both testaments.

But... yeah, maybe he does feed us with milk when we're young, and with more solid food as time goes on. I don't wonder about it too much, since it's kind of... um... above my pay grade. 8]

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